Review: The Black Angels – Clear Lake Forest


It must be spring because The Black Angels have just released some tunes clearly ring-fenced for 2014s summer tunes music library. Before listening it might be worth asking yourself a few questions. Do I like reverb? Am I susceptible to a lazy groove? Does the sound of a multi-tracked vocal take excite me? If you’re already beginning to get positive vibes then you could end up having the best time since Lou Reed.


Clear Lake Forest is The Black Angels new EP and at seven tracks a purchase I’d argue we’re pushing full record territory, but then again who am I to dictate the rules of the LP/EP/Single benchmark?


The EP opens with ‘Sunday Evening’ and with it the hypothetical question“What if I told you that everything you know isn’t even really true”? I’ve never met the man but he seems astute as he later suggests “I don’t think that you care much do ya”? Must have been knocked back before and taken note of tending responses.


Throughout the 28-minute long Clear Lake Forest, The Black Angels display the lovely knack of introducing parts and structures into songs that sound both impressive AND genre definingly lethargic.  In ‘The Executioner’, we learn the band aren’t shy of a tempo change, and in ‘The Occurrence At 4507 South Third Street’ the band create the most obscure of blues songs. They are also clear winners in the Cumbersome Track Title Award.


It’s the production on records like these that really separate the wheat from the chaff, the acid from the test and the tie from the dye. ‘Tired Eyes’ suggests The Black Angels could still be four young ragamuffins bashing out summer tunes in their garage. It’s muggy but clear, distorted yet clean, vintage and still totally hip. It’s the sheriff who strolled into the 60s, took a hoover to the brown and replaced it with grape flavoured e-cig. It’s the sound of a polished Velvet Underground and it’s the option of slipping into a heroin induced coma over doing your housework.


The EP ends with ‘Linda’s Gone’, my personal favourite and a great box ticking exercise for young aspiring psychedelic bands everywhere. You’ve got your minimal blues licks, a lingering undertone of white noise, a slightly sloppy tremolo-picked guitar and a simple vocal melody that casually drops in and out as the vocalist slips off to plant his nose in-between two reverb chambers. Of course this is how all classic psychedelic bands get their kicks. Plus, I’m a sucker for a groove and this one plays out for over six minutes. Linda may be gone but she did a great job of making an exit.


From here I guess you do your whole street a favour by opening the window, plugging your Mac into the speakers and turning it up ten or eleven, whichever you can. Do your chores or don’t bother. It’s clean fun either way.


Words: Loic Tuckey


The Black Angels Website. Facebook. Soundcloud. Twitter. Youtube.

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